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Mandela's Birthday Marked With Charitable Acts

  • VOA News

South African artist John Adams works on a giant acrylic-on-canvas painting of Nelson Mandela in the driveway of his house in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, July 15, 2013.

South African artist John Adams works on a giant acrylic-on-canvas painting of Nelson Mandela in the driveway of his house in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, July 15, 2013.

South Africans are marking the first Nelson Mandela Day since the anti-apartheid icon's death by performing acts of kindness.

Organizers urged the former president's supporters to spend 67 minutes helping others on Friday to mark Mandela's 67 years of public service.

Some people volunteered in orphanages while others distributed hand-made blankets to the less fortunate.

U.S. President Barack Obama remembered the late South African leader on the day that honors him, saying, "We may never see the likes of Madiba again, but we can honor and emulate him by taking time today, and all other days, to engage in acts of service."

Friday would have been Mandela's 96th birthday.

Granddaughter Ndileka Mandela said Mandela was especially concerned about finding sustainable solutions to poverty in rural areas.

"Granddad said 'It's in your hands' and it's to, to do the thing...you don't have to do something very big. For me what is important is to do something that's more, that's sustainable. Because that was his dream," she said.

In November 2009, the United Nations declared July 18 as Nelson Mandela Day.

South African President Jacob Zuma has called on his country's citizens to honor Mandela this year by cleaning up their surroundings. He said that working together to "build their beautiful country" is what Mr. Mandela taught South Africans to do.

Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for his opposition to South Africa's racist apartheid regime.

He was released in 1990 and was elected South Africa's first black president in the nation's first democratic, all-race elections.

He died last December, following several years of declining health.

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